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Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Since Christopher Columbus is such an important part of American History, many universities and colleges require research papers on the famous explorer. Columbus was remembered as:

  • An explorer
  • A navigator
  • A Colonizer

Research papers, at the college level, on Columbus should cover more than just these few facts. Christopher Columbus provides one the opportunity to explore more about this famous Italian navigator than just his obvious accomplishments. In a Columbus research paper, delve into the way Columbus is no longer portrayed as the hero he once was. Even in Spain, he is not honored the way he once was.

Elementary research papers note that throughout most of the history of the United States, Columbus has been seen in a favorable light. Although he did not have a direct part in the exploration and discovery of the United States, Columbus's discovery of the "New World" initiated the discovery of the U. S. and the eventual foundation of the country as a new nation. If you wish to have a deeper grasp of Christopher Columbus in your research paper, explore the five hundredth anniversary of Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1992, called the Columbus Quincentennial, which was occasion for a reevaluation of Columbus and his legacy. Changing perspectives on the colonialism and imperialism of Western countries prompted this reevaluation. Among these countries were Spain, which had sponsored Columbus' voyage in the late 1400s to try to reach Asia by sailed westward. The United States was regarded to some degree as one of the Western colonial powers. Because the United States was the major nation in the Americas coming about from Columbus' discovery of the New World, its history and the meaning of this became natural subjects for reevaluation along with the reevaluation of Columbus.

Columbus and The Multicultural Movement

What was behind this reevaluation was the multicultural movement, which had a widespread effect on contemporary American society. Native Americans were one of the minority groups leading in this multicultural movement. For centuries, they had been called "Indians" because this is what Columbus called them out of his mistaken belief that he had reached Asia and come upon parts of India. This name given by a white European on the basis of his mistaken belief seemed to the Native Americans and other minority groups as well as many regular Americans to be indicative of an erroneous presumptions about American history. It was also seen as a sign of the superiority assumed by Europeans, especially white males, in formulating the history of the United States and in determining the places and roles of the country's different minority groups, including the Native Americans. The change to Native Americans from Indians for the ethnic group that inhabited the American continent for many centuries before Columbus discovered it signified a change not only in how Columbus was seen, but also a change in the story of the history and development of the United States.

This reevaluation regarding Columbus extended even to the routine, taken-for-granted, phrase of "discovery of America" describing what Columbus accomplished by his voyage. The word "discovery" was seen as the sort of presumption Europeans continually made regarding Columbus and the following history of the United States. As the multiculturalists pointed out, certainly Columbus and his men were not the first persons for have come into contact with the Americas. The Native Americans were obviously settled in the Americas. They had advanced societies such as the Aztec in Mexico and Incan in South America. Even less-developed tribes had well-developed social organizations. As archaeological evidence since proved, the Native Americans had been in the Americas for centuries before Columbus came. The widespread and settled presence of the Native Americans raised the question of just who or what race had originally discovered the Americas. That the notion that Columbus had discovered the New World had been taken for granted for so long was seen by the multiculturalists as ignoring the presence of the innumerable Native Americans in North and South America before Columbus' voyage in 1492 and thereby relegating them to a lower, insignificant status than the European Columbus. It seemed as if the Native Americans' existence in the Americas hadn't counted. The worthwhile history of the New World began with Columbus "discovery" of a few islands in the Caribbean Sea. The minimizing of the activities and contributions of African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other minority groups in histories of the Americas and the United States written mostly by white European males, most of these academics, was seen as additional evidence of the presumptions Europeans had been making about the place of Columbus.

The noted historian Arthur Schlesinger takes the broad view that in the long run, Columbus may be seen not so much as introducing European colonialism to the New World and creating the historical situation of European dominance over other races, but as creating the bases for a world in which "differentiated national cultures live side by side in reciprocal enrichment." The positions of the multiculturalists with their recognition of the contributions and potentials of minority groups and the conservatives with their focus on the values of freedom and government under law both reflect something of this hopeful vision of Schlesinger's.

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